HC Deb 17 October 1946 vol 427 cc1106-9
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)

I beg to move, in page 91, line 28, to leave out "September, nineteen hundred and forty-six," and to insert: "January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven."

This Amendment relates to the date when the Act comes into operation. It has been rendered necessary by the passage of time. When the Bill was introduced on 13th February, it seemed reasonable to expect that it would become law by 1st September, but our expectations have not been realised, and it is therefore necessary to amend the date.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid (Glasgow, Hillhead)

Am I to take it that this postponement makes no difference to anyone, or is there any small point whereby somebody may be suffering by reason of the postponement? I imagine that this is not the case; if it is so, I should like it stated.

Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)

I should like to ask whether this alteration is changing the law.

Mr. T. Fraser

This alteration does not in any way change the law. As I have explained, when the Bill was introduced it was expected that it would pass through all its stages in time to become law by 1st September, 1946. We are now beyond that date, and we are still functioning under the very many statutes passed since 1872. This new date has merely been made necessary by our taking longer than we expected to get the Bill through all its stages. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Mr. J. S. C. Reid) asked whether anyone would suffer as the result of the postponement. No change in the law is effected, and no one will suffer. I unhesitatingly give that assurance.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 1 to 8 agreed to.

Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended, considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

5.58 p.m.

Mr. Gilzean (Edinburgh, Central)

I confess that I am at a loss, because I do not know whether I am in Order at this juncture to speak on the lines I desire. I have been warned that this is a consolidating Bill. It is simply a matter of drawing together in one volume all the pieces of legislation so that those responsible for education may say, "Here is a job which has been well done." The difficulty which presents itself to me is that no sooner is it done, and no sooner is this Bill being read the Third time, than I can see a lot of things which are necessary.

Further, in this consolidation there is, naturally, the 1945 Education Act, which was passed in a tremendous hurry at the time when the last Parliament was dying. It had to be rushed through so that the birth might take place before the demise of the parent. It is generally admitted among educationists that this Bill did not get the consideration that was due to it. Yet it is consolidated in this Bill, and I suppose it will be assumed that Scots people must be satisfied and not demand any new legislation for education. There is a great deal wrong with education in Scotland today. I regret to say that, and I wish that I did not have to say it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman but he cannot go into that subject now. The only matters with which he can deal are those contained in the Bill.

Mr. Gilzean

I agree that the things I am concerned about are not contained in the Bill, otherwise I would not be on my feet, Sir, but there are some things in the Bill that I am concerned about, and one of them is the permission that is given to education committees to allow fee paying in education committee schools. In my opinion that is becoming a festering sore, and—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I gather that the hon. Member is suggesting a change in something that is in the Bill. There, again, he would be out of Order.

Mr. Gilzean

I am not suggesting a change, because I am alive to the fact that we are not permitted to make any change in this marvellous consolidation Bill. But that is no reason why I should not point out the weaknesses of this Bill, always provided that I do not propose any changes. The change I am after is in the mentality of those who are responsible—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Clearly, that question is not in the Bill. I am afraid the hon. Member is out of Order again.

Mr. Gilzean

I am quite willing to admit that it may not be in Order to demand a change in the mentality of those responsible for framing the Bill, but, at the same time, the first thing the Secretary of State for Scotland must consider is how soon he can introduce a Bill that will have for its object the improvement of education in Scotland.

6.5 p.m.

Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge)

I would like to refer to Clause 43 of the Bill, Subsection 3, where it is expressly stated that … any award made by the Carnegie Trustees for the Universities of Scotland shall be ignored. I think that those who are putting forward this form of consolidation feel that they are making some advance on previous consolidation, or unconsolidation, whichever they prefer. But the fact is that the words are meaningless unless there is some collaboration with the Carnegie Trustees for reciprocal agreement. The Trustees simply will not give any grant whatever if an education authority is giving what it is said to be going to give under this Bill. This does not take us any part of the way towards helping to get more students at universities in Scotland. Some regard should have been had to the maintenance of students today, as compared with—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Lady, also, is out of Order.

Mrs. Mann

I would draw your attention, Sir, to Subsection (1, c) of this Clause, which states: to grant scholarships, bursaries and other allowances to persons over school age. I was referring to these other allowances, which I thought might include maintenance allowances.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Lady is now referring to something which is not in the Bill and is expressing her regret that some item is not included. Such a reference is out of Order on the Third Reading. She could have raised some of these points on the Committee stage, but she cannot do it now.

Mrs. Mann

Then all I will say is that as a form of consolidation this Bill is no use.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with an Amendment.